Description: Human exploitation of pinnipeds has considerable antiquity but shows increasing impacts on population numbers in the Holocene. Pinnipeds are a rich source of fat as well as protein. A few well-documented cases of regional extirpation of seals and sea lions by non-industrial peoples exist. The northeastern Pacific region, from southern California to Alaska, has yielded archaeological evidence for distributions and abundances of eared seals that differs markedly from historically documented biogeography. This is especially true of the northern fur seal (Callorhinus ursinus), among the most common pinnipeds in many archaeological sites from the Santa Barbara Channel area through to Kodiak Islands. This chapter reviews contemporary eared seal biogeography, evidence for the earlier timing and extent, of occurrence of northern fur seals along the northeastern Pacific coast, zooarchaeological and isotopic evidence for their foraging and probable maintenance of rookeries in lower latitudes, and for their disappearance from the southernmost part of their ancient distribution well before European contact. It also reviews ongoing debates over the behavioral ecology of ancient fur seals and over humans role in contributing to their disappearance.
Date: February 7, 2004
Creator: Gifford-Gonzales, D; Newsome, S; Koch, P; Guilderson, T; Snodgrass, J & Burton, R
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Partner: UNT Libraries Government Documents Department